Community pharmacy funding will remain the same until further notice, the Pharmaceutical Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has announced.

PSNC confirmed today (27 March) that funding levels will be maintained at the 2017/18 level from April pending the start of ‘substantive negotiations’ with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

The DHSC and PSNC's agreed interim funding arrangements ‘have been agreed to protect current funding distribution systems’, the negotiator said.

The Single Activity Fee (SAF) will remain at £1.29 while Establishments Payments and Pharmacy Access Scheme (PhAS) payments remain unchanged.

PSNC told The Pharmacist it was not able to confirm when the negotiations with the DHSC would end, as discussions haven’t started yet.

Negotiations on their way

PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe said: ‘We hope to commence negotiations with the NHS for 2018/19 community pharmacy funding very shortly and we hope this will include discussion on PSNC’s proposals for the development of community pharmacy services.

‘As yet we cannot speculate on the negotiations, but we are continuing to press the benefits and value of community pharmacies to the NHS.’

PSNC also confirmed that NHS England is changing two gateway criteria for Quality Payments:

  • Opening hours on NHS Choices must now include Bank Holidays
  • The requirement for the pharmacy to be able to send and receive NHSmail should be from a shared NHSmail account.

‘Enormous financial pressures’

Ms Sharpe argued that ‘community pharmacy contractors are under enormous financial pressure at the moment’.

She added: ‘PSNC’s priority in the negotiations will be to seek the best financial result possible for all community pharmacy contractors.

‘Our objective will be to agree arrangements that will safeguard the future of this invaluable network of healthcare providers.’

NHS England and DHSC are seeking discussions on the implementation of the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) Phase 4, PSNC said. This will see all paper prescriptions become electronic unless specified by the patient or for drugs not in the NHS list of medicines.

The pilot is expected to start in Autumn 2018.